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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

Shake Off The Devil - February 11, 2007



Sermon of the Week #200707 – February 11, 2007

The Apostle Paul said in Acts nineteen “I must also see Rome.” Acts twenty-three, the Lord said, “So must thou also bear witness at Rome.” Acts twenty-six, an angel said, “ Fear not Paul; thou must stand before Caesar.” Acts twenty-eight, Luke informs us, “And so we came to Rome.”

Acts chapter twenty-eight tells us how he got there; he was sent as a prisoner. And so we find him here in Acts twenty-eight on the way, a victim of shipwreck. Two hundred and seventy-six survivors of the shipwreck stood on the beach on the Island of Melita, soaked to the skin from swimming ashore, and shivering in the rain, and the barbarians showed them no little kindness; they kindled a fire and received them all.

These barbarians had no idea that millions of people would read of their act of kindness for the next two thousand years because they kindled a fire for victims of shipwreck. We also need to kindle fires of kindness today for the victims of spiritual shipwreck.

One fire we can kindle that will warm chilled and frozen hearts is in Acts chapter two. On the Day of Pentecost the Apostles were gathered together, and the Holy Spirit descended out of Heaven, and tongues like as of fire sat upon the heads of the Apostles. Those tongues of fire made it possible for them to preach the Word of God as the Spirit gave them utterance. We kindle a fire each week on this broadcast by preaching the gospel as it was preached in the days of the Apostles.

The preaching of the gospel on the Day of Pentecost will still set peoples’ hearts on fire, even if their wood is wet; if we preach like Jeremiah in chapter twenty when he said, “But His word was in my heart as burning fire shut up in my bones.” We need preachers today who will preach with fire in their hearts.

Now when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out by reason of the heat, and fastened on his hand. You can always depend on it; the preaching of the cross will always make it hot for the Devil, and he will find a way to foul it up with a dose of poison.

Immunity to poisonous snakebite was one of the signs given the Apostles in the Great Commission.  And when the barbarians saw the venomous creature hanging from his hand, they said among themselves; “No doubt this man is a murderer whom, though he hath escaped from the sea, yet justice suffered him not to live.”

The Barbarians believed when a bad thing happens to a person, he is getting paid back for some wrong he did in the past. However, it may seem a strange commentary on the barbarians who had never heard of the Bible and were not Christians, and yet evidently had some kind of a conscience and feeling of judgment that will come to all men because of sin. By natural instinct, like all men, they believed what Paul would say later in Hebrews nine, verse twenty-seven, “It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment.” And so they thought since Paul was in custody, he being a murderer was getting his just desserts. He would surely swell up and drop dead.

Today, we live in what could be called a society without a conscience. Many feel no sense of wrongdoing at all as they participate in drive-by shootings, all manner of hideous murders being committed, and the criminal having no feeling of remorse whatever. Paul speaks of these days when he tells Timothy about the character of men in the last days in First Timothy four, “For the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron.”

Sometimes it seems futile to preach the message of Christ to a world today whose conscience has been seared as with a hot iron. Few and far between are those who are persuaded. Before World War II, someone asked President Roosevelt why he did not talk to Hitler and Mussolini and try to get them to get off the collision course to the war. His reply was that talking to those two was like talking to a couple of mad dogs.

That strikes a responsive chord in me as we remember the words of Paul again in Second Timothy three, “But know this that in the last days grievous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”

In a world gone mad over sports, violent movies, drug addiction, alternate lifestyles in sex, passing out condoms to school children, murder by abortion, drive-by shootings, child abuse, and child abductions, I cannot help but feel that as far as the world in general is concerned, my message from week to week is preached for the benefit of a society of mad dogs who probably are not listening anyway.

The Barbarians were surprised when Paul shook off the creature into the fire, and took no harm. Some today would accuse Paul of cruelty to dumb animals. I have read of one state where it is a crime to catch a rat in a trap. They say that more humane measures should be taken. Some people today are more humane about killing a rat in a trap than they are about killing a baby in the womb.

It is needful to mention these barbarians were called barbarians because they did not speak Greek, which was the language of the people. We have more sophisticated barbarians today. The modern-day barbarians are those who will neither read, nor hear, nor understand the Word of God; signs of the times.

Paul shook off the creature into the fire and took no harm. Did a poisonous snake ever fasten itself on your hand? Did you ever shake him off? The Devil is called the Old Serpent, the Devil and Satan. SHAKE OFF THE CREATURE INTO THE FIRE.

I can see that the serpent has fastened himself to many a hand as I note how their fingers are stained brown. The serpent has fastened itself on their hand and it is a hard habit to shake off. Shake him off into the fire. The Old Serpent fastens himself to the hand of the doctor who performs abortions. Shake him off; shake off the creature into the fire. Obviously, the serpent has fastened upon the hand of the person who sticks a needle in his arm. Shake him off; shake off the creature into the fire. Many are the vipers that fasten themselves on the hand. There is the viper of indifference, the viper of prejudice, as well as the viper of unbelief. Shake him off; shake off the serpent into the fire.

The first person whose hand felt the bite of the serpent was Eve in the Garden of Eden, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eye, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.” Since we were not there we could not tell her, “Shake him off into the fire.”

And so when Paul demonstrated his Apostolic powers regarding the serpent and the healing of some sick, the Barbarians showed them great kindness and helped them continue their trip to Rome.

Luke says, three months after the shipwreck, “We set sail in a ship of Alexandria to complete the journey to Rome.” Now here is a strange coincidence. The ship that was wrecked according to the previous chapter was also a ship of Alexandria. The first ship of Alexandria was wrecked, and the second ship of Alexandria brought them to Rome.

Some times two people on the voyage of life have similar results. There is a poem that tells the story.

 “One ship sails east, another sails west, by the same self winds that blow

Tis the set of the sail, and not the gale that determines the way they go. 

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of time as we journey on through life

Tis’ the set of the soul, that determines the goal, and not the calm or the strife.

The big difference in one person and another is the fact that some have set their sails toward Heaven, and some toward Hell.

Notice also the first ship of Alexandria weathered many days of violent storms and survived until they tried to beach the ship on the Island of Melita. In a similar manner, the Old Ship of Zion can weather all manner of storms, and remain afloat, until they get too close to the world. Is it not true today there is not a lot of difference in the lifestyle of the world, and many of the members of the Church?

When the ship arrived on the mainland, many of the Christians from Rome, hearing that Paul was coming, went out to meet him. They had heard of him, and read his epistle to the Romans, and were anxious to see him. Paul was glad to see them and took courage that he had so many friends at Rome.

However, there is a sad note to their friendship. Paul would be two years in this first imprisonment at Rome in his own rented house, awaiting trial with a soldier that guarded him. Paul refers to that trial before Nero in Second Timothy four, “At my first defense no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account.” It was easy to go on a little trip and greet Paul on his arrival, but at the trial, they were nowhere to be seen. We all enjoy our fair-weather friends; but don’t depend on them. A man once told me, “I am on your side, but I am not going to say anything.” When you have friends like that, you don’t need any enemies.

However, Paul was not entirely alone. He said in the next verse, “But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that through me, the gospel might be fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”

And now concerning those two years while awaiting trial upon his arrival in Rome, after three days he called together the chiefs of the Jews, told them of his arrival, and explained why he was chained each day to a Roman soldier.

The Apostle was bound, but as he said in Second Timothy, “The word of God is not bound.” It was while he awaited trial that he wrote the epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon; read by millions for the past two thousand years. Paul was bound, but the Word of God was not bound. This broadcast comes to you from a little spot in the road, yet heard all over the world. It is still true; the Word of God is not bound.

The Jews were not concerned about the chain, but they did say they wanted to hear him concerning this sect that was everywhere spoken against. In that day, it seems that people looked upon the Church as a sect. This is true today. Whenever people hear of the New Testament Church, it is regarded as a sect. The real thing always seems odd. It was that way in the days of the Apostles, and nothing has changed.

Then when they appointed him a day, there were many who came to him into his lodging to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God from morning till evening.

Paul preached unto them day after day, but what did he preach? Since he wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon, we have some idea of some of the things he included in his message.

One of the areas he must have touch on was that marvelous passage he would write to the Ephesians in the fourth chapter about the program for unity when he said, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in you all.”

One body; there is one Church. Paul could remind them how he said of Christ in Colossians, “He is the head of the body.” Since a body can only have one head, there is only one Church, and one Lord. One hope; Christ is our only hope. If He should fail, there is none other. One Spirit; Jesus told the Apostles, “The Holy Spirit when He is come shall guide you into all the truth.” The Bible is the Word of God the Holy Spirit. No other book can qualify as the Word of God. One faith; people ask, “Of what faith are you?” There is only one faith. One baptism; the purpose of that baptism is the one mentioned in Acts chapter two, verse thirty-eight, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The method used is in Acts chapter eight, verse thirty-eight, “They went down into the water both Phillip and the eunuch and he baptized him and they came up out of the water.” One God, and Father of all; the GOD is easy to identify as the one who has an only begotten Son named Jesus.

Another part of Paul’s message is Philippians chapter one, as we see the effect of his message on the Praetorian Guard when he said, “My bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole Praetorian Guard, and to all the rest.” This group was like the Secret Service of the Emperor.

So as Paul taught, and also wrote the epistle to the Ephesians, the guard each day heard about the Christian warfare. The soldier on the other end of the chain provided a good illustration of the Christian’s armor as Paul spoke of the shield of faith, and all the rest of it. Then when he mentioned the sword of the Spirit, some of those soldiers got the point as they heard him day by day.

In a period of two years, the constant changing of guards were bombarded with the gospel message from the Lord’s most able evangelist, and it most certainly would have taken its toll because Paul would have taken advantage of it. The Praetorian Guard thought Paul was their prisoner when in fact they were his captive audiences. Paul may have been on one end of the chain, but the soldier was on the other end, and it is most reasonable to think that some of the Praetorian Guard became soldiers of the cross.

Here is another thing Paul must have included in his teaching in Philippians four that must have been mentioned. There are two verses that my preacher wrote in my New Testament that he presented to me upon my graduation from High School. I needed them then in the days of the Great Depression, and still depend on them now in this worldwide ministry. One verse said, “My God shall supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” and the other was, “I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me.”

Then there is also some advice in Colossians three, especially needed by that Roman audience, as well as our own regarding the best philosophy of life, “If ye be raised together with Christ, set your affections on things that are above, and not upon the things of the earth. For ye died and your life is hid with Christ in God, and when Christ who is your life shall be manifested, then shall ye also be manifested with Him in Glory”.

The results of all this teaching was, some believed the things that were spoken and some disbelieved. Isaiah speaks of the Lord as a tried and true stone. Peter speaks of Him as a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. One way or the other that is the way it is with every person who hears the gospel. A tried stone or rock of offence. So it is written, so let it be done.